Sam Bowker is an Associate Professor in Creative Art. His teaching and research are focussed on art history and visual culture, including object-centred, collaborative, and creative practice research.
His research examines Islamic art and design from Australian perspectives, with a specialisation upon the history of Egyptian tentmaker appliqué or khayamiya. Co-authored with Seif El Rashidi, this has been published as the book The Tentmakers of Cairo: Egypt’s Medieval and Modern Applique Craft (American University in Cairo Press, 2018). He was co-editor with Onur Ozturk and Xenia Gazi for Deconstructing the Myths of Islamic Art (Routledge, 2021).
His curated exhibitions have toured regional Australia ('Elsewhere' with Wendy Sharpe and Bernard Ollis, 2018-2020), as well as the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (Khayamiya: Khedival to Contemporary, 2015-2016) and the Australian National Art Glass Gallery (Windowless Worlds, 2021). His curation highlights narratives through the combination of visual and literary cultures (Have Poets Left a Patch to Sew? 2017).
He also performs creative practice research regarding literary song cycles and Egyptian khayal al-zill shadow theatre for the Green Beetle Company, notably the collaborative concerts ‘The Thief of Stars’ (2020-2021) and ‘The Alchemist’s Jar’ (2023).
He joined Charles Sturt University in 2012, having previously lectured in Art and Design Theory for the Australian National University in the National Gallery of Australia (since 2008). His work before academia was focused on museum and gallery education (or ‘learning and access’) for Australian cultural institutions, including the National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Australia, and National Library of Australia. His PhD was from the Australian National University (2011), following a Bachelor of Art History and Curatorship with Honours (2004).
Sam Bowker has taught subjects ranging from European Art between 1850-1930, Australian Art (Colonial to Contemporary), the history of design, Italian Renaissance Art, and ‘Perspectives in Photography’, as well as a cultural history of the screen (CCI103) and an introduction to visual communication (CCI101). At Faculty level, he developed and led a postgraduate seminar series for advanced research methods.
Between 2014 to 2021 he developed and taught a unique Islamic art subject designed for regional Australians. He now teaches ART241: Global Art Histories, which was launched in 2022 by the public lecture series “The Art of Everywhere Else” in Wagga Wagga.
In addition to serving as the Sub Dean Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Arts and Education, Sam Bowker supervises PhD, Masters, and Honours students across a range of fields in art history, design and creative practice. He has extensive experience in the design and delivery of learning programs for a wide range of museum and gallery collections, and is a registered Australian lecturer for ADFAS.